The idea of technology lifecycle management (TLM) is not new, but our increasing dependence on technology to function in business makes these plans more important than ever. Companies that don’t have a technology lifecycle management plan should start creating one now.
Why Technology Lifecycle Management Matters for Your Business
A recent McAfee report1 titled “Every Company is a Software Company” found that businesses run 464 software applications on average. That ranges from enterprise companies (50,000+ employees) with 788 on average to small businesses (under 1,000 employees) with 22. Businesses use these to coordinate daily operations, connect with customers, and provide products and services.
These software programs include:
- Internal applications – a CRM for your sales team or a customer service application for call-center employees to enter call data and retrieve information about customer accounts.
- Partner and supplier applications – software to coordinate supply chain operations, schedule deliveries, or order materials.
- Customer-facing applications – applications customers use to do business with you, such as scheduling appointments, shopping on your website, or contacting customer support.
These applications require management and updating – without which your business might be caught unable to meet your employees’ or customers’ needs.
Consumption-Based Models Take the Lead
Many companies have transitioned from owning hardware and software to “as a service” (aaS) models. While these can have tremendous cost benefits, they also come with some potential pitfalls.
One of the biggest problems with aaS models is the time and effort it takes to properly manage these vendor contracts. Without a technology lifecycle management plan, you are at risk of:
- Overpaying for services or features you don’t need.
- Incurring unanticipated costs when something goes wrong.
- Getting stuck in bad multi-year contracts.
- Limiting your ability to innovate and adapt as your industry changes.
- Losing revenue and customers because you can’t meet their needs.
- Combating security breaches that could have been prevented.
Hybrid and Remote Work Increase the Necessity of TLM
A Gartner survey in 2020 found that 80% of employers plan to continue allowing employees to work remotely2 even when things return to some semblance of normal after COVID-19. These work arrangements make IT security and asset management more difficult. Having a TLM plan in place is essential for all workplaces with remote or hybrid options.
How to Get Started With Technology Lifecycle Management
“Technology lifecycle management allows organizations to focus on meeting goals and performance objectives today, while anticipating and preparing for future systems requirements.”
When you’re ready to start proactively managing your technology lifecycle, there are certain steps to do it right. For many businesses, it’s beneficial to engage a consultant because this process is time-consuming and challenging. Consultants with specialized knowledge of TLM can help you identify cost-savings opportunities, evaluate the vendor landscape objectively, and provide support and guidance from start to finish.
1: Conduct a full assessment of your current IT environment.
First you need to figure out what you have now and what you are going to need in the future. Your analysis should involve stakeholders from all aspects of your business, not just IT people. Gather input from executives, managers, and everyday users –including employees, partners, suppliers, and customers.
This is also the time to outline what metrics you will use to evaluate how effective your technology is in the future, creating a systematic and consistent way to review and update applications moving forward.
“TLM planning isn’t just for a for-profit business. All types of organizations can embrace technology to help drive down costs, boost productivity, and improve customer experiences.”
2: Procure the technology you need.
The next step is to evaluate your options from different vendors and acquire the appropriate software and hardware systems. This is also when you decide how to finance the purchase based on the budget you have. With the help of a consultant, you may be able to identify cost savings from streamlining current IT systems that can go toward future purchases.
3: Implementation, management, and tracking for your new systems.
This process can vary pretty widely based on the type of technology you are implementing, but it’s important that you set the stage here to track and manage your systems for the long term. It’s more than just putting inventory tags on your new equipment, though. This is the time to create a system to:
- Understand the useful life of each product.
- Identify its purpose in your larger technology ecosystem.
- Create a system of ownership and effective tracking mechanisms.
4: Optimize your products over time.
Hardware and software assets are rarely “set it and forget it.” They require frequent updates, upgrades, patches, and troubleshooting to run optimally over their useful life. During this stage, you need to have a plan for regular maintenance and updates to protect against security breaches, prevent unplanned outages, and reduce the risk of surprises.
No technology lasts forever. An effective TLM plan includes set intervals at which you need to replace applications and hardware, providing more transparency and limiting surprises in your IT budgets each year. For many businesses, a staggered system works best so you can spread out the cost of replacement over time rather than having it all hit in a single fiscal year budget.
Your plan should also include how you will dispose of old technology (specifically hardware assets). It’s important for someone to own this part of the process and research the best methods for disposal so you won’t inadvertently throw away items that harm the environment.
How a Consultant Can Help
A technology lifecycle management plan is critical to your success, but creating one is not easy. Outsourcing to a consultant with expertise in the process can save you time and money. Find out more about how Profit Advisory Group can help your company by scheduling an initial consultation today.